LIFE IN A DIFFERENT WORLD: Rome

City sans crowds like a romantic dream

The Trevi Fountain last Tuesday. The writer says: "We walked to the Trevi Fountain... and there were so few people, we were practically alone... This experience is making it possible to see the city that we live in with new eyes..."
The Trevi Fountain last Tuesday. The writer says: "We walked to the Trevi Fountain... and there were so few people, we were practically alone... This experience is making it possible to see the city that we live in with new eyes..."PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
The Trevi Fountain last Tuesday. The writer says: "We walked to the Trevi Fountain... and there were so few people, we were practically alone... This experience is making it possible to see the city that we live in with new eyes..."
GIANLUCA BOSCOLO, 30, WEB DEVELOPER

For the past two months, many of the world's most popular destinations have been shuttered, leaving monuments, museums, shops, restaurants, bars and streets almost empty. As the world reopens and residents step out, they are faced with the reality that life today is different from what it was before the coronavirus pandemic, and will likely remain so for some time. One of the most significant differences - a bittersweet realisation for most - is that there are currently no tourists to attend to or crowds to shuffle through. Residents in some of the most crowded tourist spots reveal what it's like.

After two months of quarantine, my friend and I ventured back to the centre of the city from our home in the Montersacro neighbourhood.

We walked to the Circus Maximus and the Colosseum - and it was a strange sight: No one else was there. You have to understand that I work in an office in the Monti neighbourhood by the Colosseum and every day, I used to wade through the crowds entering and exiting the Coloseo Metro station to get to the ancient amphitheatre and the Roman Forum.

At first it was bizarre to be there without all those people, but as it sank in, it became a beautiful, new experience.

I am from Chioggia, a town just south of Venice, and I always dreamt of living in Rome. Being here during this time has been difficult, but for the past week, the city has been romantic, like a dream.

We walked to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps and there were so few people, we were practically alone... Even the mundane things we once took for granted like getting gelato or having a coffee outside now feel special.

We got some pizza and supply in Trastevere. Imagine walking through Trastevere, across Ponte Sisto, along the Lungotevere, without it being lined with people. This experience is making it possible to see the city that we live in with new eyes...

Walking now gives us a chance to see details that we don't always notice when you're elbowing your way through a group of tourists.

We went to St Peter's Square, the Pantheon, Villa Borghese. Right now, Rome is visited only by Romans and it's a strange feeling.

It's sad that we don't have tourism because we rely on it and it will soon be an emergency if we don't get tourists back, but we have been enjoying this brief respite.

 
 
 
 
 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 24, 2020, with the headline 'City sans crowds like a romantic dream'. Print Edition | Subscribe